The Kennebec County commissioners are about to decide where the  Melville Fuller statue is to be located for the future. Our acting chief justice of the Maine Supreme Court has requested that the statue be removed. Melville Fuller served as chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court in 1896 when one of the worst decisions ever to come down from the Supreme Court was decided. Plessy v. Ferguson came down on the side of racial segregation and OK’d the policy of “separate but equal.” This was the foundation for Jim Crow laws throughout the South especially and gave license to all sorts of inequities and human cruelties, with signs reading “Whites only” and “Colored Only” and every form of “separate” with no “equal” to accompany it. In some states, Blacks were not allowed on the roads or sidewalks after sundown and could be subject to punishment including lynchings.

Plessy v. Ferguson was the law of the land until it was overturned by Brown v. the Board of Education in 1954. But those 60 years didn’t end like clockwork. It takes decades for the pain and memories to subside. And then new forms of discrimination pop up, such as redlining to keep Black people from buying homes in white neighborhoods. Fuller didn’t write the decision for Plessy v. Ferguson but he voted with the majority for that ugly policy and didn’t show the leadership his position demanded as chief justice.

Recently columnist Doug Rooks wrote that the case against Judge Fuller wasn’t proven (column, Dec. 18). But there is no question that Fuller supported the “separate but equal” policy, which caused untold misery. We do not need that statue in front of our county courthouse to serve as another poke in the eye to people of color.

Commissioners, please remove the statue from its present site.

 

Diane Potter

Gardiner

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